Think Critically Before You Buy Pink

by Donne Davis on October 14, 2010

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October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Pink ribbons can be seen everywhere. Companies are jumping on the pink bandwagon and using the color pink and pink ribbons to advertise their products. They claim that a portion of their proceeds will go to cancer research. But how much money actually goes toward breast cancer and which organizations will get the money? Breast Cancer Action, a non-profit organization, wants us all to think critically before we buy into any company’s pink sales pitch.

Today’s guest writer is Kimberly Irish, a program manager at Breast Cancer Action.

Since 2002, when Breast Cancer Action (BCA) started the Think Before You Pink® campaign, we have offered a different perspective on “Breast Cancer Awareness Month.” BCA challenges the actions of pinkwashers, which are companies that purport to care about breast cancer by promoting a pink ribbon product while also manufacturing products that are linked to the disease. Our efforts to change the conversation have activated thousands of people to think before they pink.

BCA is known as the watchdog of the breast cancer movement. We have a strict corporate contributions policy that prohibits us from accepting funding from any company that contributes to breast cancer. To us, that means freedom. Freedom to tell the truth. Freedom to change the conversation. And freedom to call out corporations for their pinkwashing practices.

Two years ago, BCA achieved a tremendous Think Before You Pink® victory. We challenged General Mills, the manufacturer of Yoplait yogurt, to “put a lid” on using rBGH, or recombinant bovine growth hormone, in its yogurt. Not only has rBGH been linked to increased risk of breast cancer, Yoplait yogurt cups were topped with a pink lid through General Mills’ campaign “Save Lids to Save Lives.” BCA and many other organizations were appalled at this contradiction, and we successfully got General Mills to stop using rBGH in Yoplait yogurt. Dannon, another major yogurt manufacturer, followed General Mills’ lead.

This year, BCA has continued the work we started in 2009 with our Milking Cancer campaign. We decided to go straight to the source of rBGH and ask the pharmaceutical giant Eli Lilly to stop manufacturing it. Eli Lilly is the ultimate pinkwasher – while they don’t print pink ribbons on their products, they do sell rBGH, which is linked to increased risk of breast cancer, along with drugs that “prevent” breast cancer and drugs that treat the disease. Lilly runs the perfect breast cancer profit cycle, and we’re sick of it! Thousands of BCA supporters agreed with us and signed our online petition. We plan to plaster our message in Indianapolis (Eli Lilly’s hometown) on a billboard, too.

Please help spread the word about Think Before You Pink®. Sign up for Breast Cancer Action’s brand new blog. Read the critical questions we encourage all consumers to think about before purchasing pink products. And consider BCA’s different perspective on October.

{ 1 comment }

Susan Adcox October 17, 2010 at 6:56 pm

Thank you for this informative post. I knew that some products were being sold mostly to capitalize on the popularity of the “pink ribbon,” but I did not know that there were ethical issues of this magnitude involved.

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